Cross-Training That Builds Stamina

By Albert Tan

What is Cross-training?
Cross training is any form of exercise or workout that supplements your main training or sports. In this case, you main training is running and the supplemental training would be other forms of exercise that work the different muscles or joints.

Why should you cross-train?
When you cross-train, it helps to strengthen your non-running muscle groups and rest your running muscle groups. It also helps to maintain and improve your heart and lung muscles as most of these exercises are endurance type of workouts.


Cross-training helps you to lower the chances of getting injury on the main muscle group that is used in running. It burns calories the way running does and helps to keep your body fresh. Besides, you can avoid being bored of going through the same running routine.


Types of cross-training exercises


Cycling is a great way to boost your heart and lung fitness, and it is a low impact exercise. It also helps to develop your buttocks and front thigh muscles. You can choose to perform your cycling outdoor on a mountain bike or road bike, or indoor using a stationary bicycle.



For those who can swim and have access to a swimming pool, it is an excellent sports to supplement running as it is a non-weight bearing exercise that allows you to reset your joints from running stress. It also allows you to work more on your upper body strength and endurance.


If you are not a good swimmer, jogging in the water will do just fine. It is also good for those who have knee injuries. Go to the depth of your waist or up until the lower part of your chest. If water level is too shallow, you would feel a slight impact on your knees while being at too deep a level would not enable you to do the running movement properly.



Most fitness gyms would have rower ergometers that allow you to perform a rowing-like exercise. You will have to pull a handle that is attached to a cable that connects to the rowing machine. This exercise helps to build strength and endurance on your upper back muscles, core and front thigh muscles. Rowing is also a cardio type of workout that maintains and improves heart and lung fitness.


Weight Training

Specific weight or strength training allows runners to build and improve strength in their running muscles. You can either do it with weights (machine or free weight) or with your own body weight. Research has shown that 2 to 3 days of weight training for 6 consecutive weeks improved 5km and 10km race performance. Seek advice and help from the gym instructor or trainer for the right technique to perform certain exercises.


Brisk Walking

Walking is a good substitute for a rest day or an easy run day, especially if you have a slight injury or muscle stress and are in need of some time to recover from a longer run or a speed workout. You will feel less stressed and will be able to exercise pain-free. Do not over stride your walking length as it may put stress on your shin muscles. Just make sure you feel relaxed during your walk.


Circuit Training

Circuit training is a form of body-conditioning training using high intense aerobic workout. Running coaches usually include this form of training into their programme as it helps to develop strength and muscular endurance. A circuit consists of many exercises (about 6 to 10 types) that are carried out in short duration such as 30 seconds, with short rest period between exercises. One may perform a few circuits in one training session.


For practicality, perform about 20 to 40 minutes of cross-training per session per week during an easy run or rest day if preferred. Two or more cross-training in a week can be done if you have sustained injury due to overtraining in running and need time to recover while maintaining fitness.




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